06/11/2015 14:07 EDT | Updated 06/11/2016 01:12 EDT

Gun laws being whittled away without debate, say gun-control advocates

OTTAWA - Families of victims and witnesses to the 1989 Montreal massacre say Canada's hard-won gun control laws are being whittled away — and no one seems ready, or even allowed, to talk about it.Advocates of gun control say this week's shooting death of an Edmonton police officer illustrates the chill on discussing gun violence and public policy — even as the Conservatives rush through another firearms bill they say weakens gun control.In the wake of Monday's shooting, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson suggested the elimination of the federal long-gun registry may be a factor in numerous altercations between police and armed assailants.Justice Minister Peter MacKay blasted Iveson's comments as "absurd," "inappropriate" and "ill-timed" — forcing an apology and retraction from the mayor.On the same day, federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney was labelling the gunman a "right-wing extremist" and saying the Harper government's new anti-terrorism bill would prevent such tragedies.Heidi Rathjen, a witness to the shooting deaths of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, says Conservative politicians and the gun lobby have used intimidation tactics to silence gun control advocates and the media — leaving a complete absence of debate over firearms legislation. Follow @BCheadle on Twitter